New Zealand Labour Party

Week That Was: Health, housing and technology!

Our Week That Was series gives you a round-up of all the achievements, announcements, and other political goings-on around Parliament and across the country over the past week. We're proud of all we're doing to make New Zealand a great place to live - and we want to share it with you!

This week we saw the Child Poverty Reduction Bill go to the Committee of the whole House. Reducing child poverty in New Zealand has been one of our main priorities since entering Government, so we're proud to see this progress. Capture.jpg

The second reading of the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill happened this week, with Health Minister Dr David Clark outlining a number of planned amendments set to be introduced at the Committee stage. The proposed amendments will:

  • Alter the eligibility for people who can use the statutory defence for the use of illicit cannabis so that it covers people in palliation (rather than limiting it to the terminally ill in their last year)
  • Set a requirement for regulations associated with the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme to be made no later than a year after the law comes into effect
  • Make clear that varieties of cannabis that are already in New Zealand can be used for medicinal products
  • Make technical changes to the description of allowable THC thresholds in CBD medicinal products

Dr Clark said proposed changes to the Government’s medicinal cannabis legislation will mean more people can get access to medicinal cannabis faster. 

“This legislation will greatly increase availability of quality medicinal cannabis products, and will allow for their domestic manufacture. It will mean many New Zealanders living in pain will have another option to find relief.”

We also announced an investment to get more children and their teachers engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects this week, with funding for 34 projects across New Zealand through the Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund.

Among the successful projects scheduled for 2019 are:

  • Kaiwhanake Taupānga Māori - Māori Youth Game Development programme by OMGTech! Aiming to empower rangatahi in underserved areas to design and develop Māori digital learning games, and improve their skills in computer science and programming,
  • Air Science Circus by NIWA. A touring and interactive ‘circus’ of air-themed experiments and experiences for school children.
  • Possums and Pythagoras: How mathematics helps solve New Zealand’s pest mammal problem, by Landcare Research. By collecting, analysing and mapping their own GPS data during an interactive field trip, students will learn how mathematics helps us to understand animal ecology resulting in effective control of pest mammals.

 All successful projects will provide hands-on STEM experiences for our future scientists, mathematicians, researchers, technicians, and engineers. We want to move towards a highly skilled, innovative workforce fit for the 21st century - and these projects are one of the ways we're making this happen.

Earlier in the week, Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford revealed that the KiwiBuild Unit has received 102 responses for its Invitation to Pitch for offsite manufacturers. What does that mean? Well, it means transforming how we build homes to reduce construction costs, deliver consistent high quality design, increase capacity of the construction sector, and get homes completed faster. 

“The offsite manufacturing procurement process will take time. In the meantime, KiwiBuild is building affordable, starter homes for first home buyers. It’s doing this through underwriting eligible new developments, making land available for development and integrating affordable housing into major urban development projects,” Phil Twyford said. 

The latest progress report on the Government’s ultra-fast broadband (UFB) programme shows 1,399,236 households and businesses have access to UFB, and 668,850 (or 47.8%) have already connected. It's a great result, and shows more people than ever are accessing UFB here in New Zealand. 

This report was released just before we announced that we're extending and improving internet access and mobile coverage in Southland and the West Coast, as part of a larger boost for the region.

Read more about the coalition Government's PGF investment on the West Coast here!

And on Friday, the Prime Minister and Health Minister Dr David Clark visited the Island Bay Medical Centre in Wellington, where they met with patients and staff to discuss changes to our health system. From this week, more than half a million people will pay less to visit their GP, after our Government reduced the cost of doctors' visits for Community Services Card holders by an average of $20-30, making it easier for 540,000 people to get the care they need, when they need it.

The coalition Government has also expanded free doctors' visits and prescriptions to all children under 14. This means that, from 1 December, 56,000 more young New Zealanders will be eligible for free primary care! It's all part of our plan to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child.

That's it for this week! Tune in next week to keep up-to-date on all the latest buzz around the Beehive and everything else happening around the country.